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by Jay Privman of

Michael Wrona abruptly dismissed as Santa Anita announcer
- HORSE RACING,In what seems like a shocking development, Santa Anita has decided to replace its talented and popular track announcer, Michael Wrona, Tim Ritvo of The Stronach Group said on Saturday, confirming a note on Twitter from Wrona saying he had been let go.

"It is true," Ritvo said when asked to confirm the news. "We should have a replacement named in the next couple of days. We have a replacement. We just wanted to let Michael know first."

Asked if Wrona had done something wrong, Ritvo said, "It's just a change in business. We're going in a different direction. He did a fine job. We're appreciative of the job he did."

Wrona, reached at his home near Santa Anita, said he was "devastated to the core."

Wrona said he had gone to Santa Anita on Saturday to meet with Ritvo regarding a new contract, since his current deal was soon to expire, and was informed then that he was being let go. Wrona had been the announcer since the spring of 2016, when he won an unusual audition with three other announcers, most notably Frank Mirahmadi. Santa Anita's main winter meeting opens Dec. 26.

Joe Morris was the executive who oversaw that audition. He was relieved of his duties by Ritvo last year.

"To be put through the unprecedented and protracted audition process, and earn this opportunity, and have it taken from me, it's very hard to process," Wrona said.

Ritvo said the new announcer "will be more involved."

"We want him to be a face and figure around the facility," Ritvo said.

Asked if Wrona was asked to perform those tasks, Ritvo said, "No."

"We thought the other person was better able to do this," he said.

The Wrona news follows in the same month that Santa Anita decided to reorganize and meld its simulcast and XBTV products, which resulted in on-camera personalities including former jockey Richard Migliore, Megan Devine, and Aaron Vercruysse being let go, in addition to several production personnel.

Millie Ball, Zoe Cadman, and Jeff Siegel remain as on-camera talent from XBTV and are expected to play a greater role in the simulcast product when the main meet opens.

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